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On a scale of hardness a rodents incisors come in at 5.5. On that same scale Iron only comes in at 4.0. Rodents incisors continue to grow, they never stop. Because of this they must always sharpen them to wear them down. I have a beaver skull that shows this very well. The big rodent lost one upper incisor due to infection, he aligned one bottom incisor with the top. The other bottom incisor continued to grow and looped around past his cheekbone and stopped all the way around to form a large circle.

     Rodents will usually find a favorite spot to sharpen their teeth, called a chew station, and use this to keep their teeth nice and trim. One of the hazards of rodents doing this is when they are living in a house and they chew on the electrical wires or cable wires. According to the national fire association, rodents chewing on electrical wires start 7% of all house fires in North America.

     Most rodents defecate and urinate as they travel, they only exception is the flying squirrel which uses a communal toilet like the raccoon or the otter. The fecal matter can also be a problem in itself, which can hold the hantivirus among many other viruses and bacteria. When the piles build up it holds moisture, which can hold the viruses. Professionals with the proper equipment should always perform fecal matter cleanup. Many homeowners think they can do it themselves and save the money from the cost of the cleanup. What chances with your health are you willing to take? More importantly, what is your life worth? It really doesn’t seem worth it, especially when a lot of times your homeowners insurance may cover the cost of the cleanup. I do what I do and I don’t pretend to be something IM not. When I have an electrical problem in my house, I call an electrician.


Rats constantly leave droppings in areas that they frequent. Fresh droppings are dark in color and soft in texture. After 3 days, they harden and lose their dark color.

Rats urinate in areas that they frequent. Since urine gives off a fluorescent glow under ultraviolet light, a blacklight can be a useful tool for locating areas of rat contamination.

Rats always travel the same runways and leave smudge marks- a buildup of dirt and oil from their fur-along walls, pipes, gnawed openings and particularly and rafters for roof rats.

Rats keep indoor runways, or well-used paths, free of cobwebs, debris, and dust. Norway rats’ runways are usually well-defined paths at floor level next to walls and other vertical surfaces. Roof rats’ runways are above on rafters, pipes, etc.

Outside, roof and Norway rats’ runways appear as narrow paths through vegetation.

Rats are noisy and you can hear them when climbing, gnawing, clawing, moving and chattering to each other.

Footprints and tail drags can be seen in dusty locations.

Gnaw marks are a sure sign of rats. Their teeth grow continuously and they must gnaw on everything in order to survive.

Rats produce a distinctive musky odor.

Norway rats usually burrow, but nests under concrete slabs, in rag piles or in lumber piles are not unusual.

Roof rats’ nests are usually up high and are often difficult to find. Sometimes nests are similar to tree squirrels’ nests, consisting of leaves, twigs and vines. 

Light Infestation (less than 20)

A few fresh droppings found in out of the way areas. Fewer than 30 droppings can be found in any one place, and the number of droppings is less than 6. 

Medium Infestation (20 to 50)

Fresh droppings seen in 20 to 30 locations. Old droppings and fresh gnawing found. One or more rats seen at night; usually no rats observed during the day. 

Heavy Infestation (more than 50)

Fresh droppings seen in numerous locations along with old droppings of various sizes, indicating an increasing population. Fresh track, gnawing, smudge marks and 3 or more rats noticed at night or rats seen during the day. 


Rats are social animals and having the companionship of a littermate is good for them, we think. It doesn't take much handling to get them used to being touched. Rats are the furtive invaders who hide in the dark, dank spaces of our buildings and towns, emerging en masse after dark to feed on garbage and food scraps. They can carry disease, either directly or via the insects that feed on them (such as the fleas whose bite spread the bubonic plague). Rats are considerably smaller than dogs but are at least as capable of thinking about things and figuring them out! And, while rats are much smaller than elephants, they have excellent memories.

Rats are normally lifted by grasping the whole body with the palm over the back, with forefinger behind the head and the thumb and second finger under opposite axilla. This extends the rat's forelimbs so that they may be controlled (future picture). Rats are indigenous to almost all areas affected by land mines, and are thus less prone to tropical diseases than non-native mine detection dogs. In addition, the cost of training and upkeep is less for rats than dogs. Rats are absolutely fascinating (and fantastic!). I've adopted many throughout the years as companions.

Rats are carriers of many different diseases, they contaminate food, and sometimes bite. Rats are primarily nocturnal. Rats are clean, intelligent, affectionate animals which bond to their human companions in much the same way that dogs do, and with the right care should provide a comparable level of companionship. They are the same species as the wild brown rat, Rattus norvegicus , but have been selectively bred for looks and temperament for at least the last century and are now quite different in temperament from their ancestors. Rats are social animals that are happiest when kept as same sex pairs who are familiar with each other. You may also house together a pair that has been spayed and neutered.

Rats are found worldwide in almost every type of environment. They are related to mice , but are usually larger. Rats are and always have been a problem underground, and with trash collection posing problems for the MTA, rats live the good life. Corrigan claimed that trash storage areas where garbage may site for a few days are breeding grounds for the rodents. Rats are also quite clean, and can even be litter trained if you start when they're little.

Rats are very intelligent and can be taught simple tricks, such as stay and sit and will often learn their name. They can also be litter box trained. Rats are wary animals and can be frightened easily by unfamiliar sounds or sounds coming from new locations. Most rodents, however, can quickly become accustomed to new sounds heard repeatedly. Rats are expert climbers, so they could be getting in under the eaves of your roof.

Rats are omnivores (and not very picky ones). They have terrible vision, and they’re colorblind, so they rely on their fine sense of smell and whiskers for touch. Rats are typically distinguished from mice by their size; rats are generally large muroid rodents, while mice are generally small muroid rodents. The muroid family is very large and complex, and the common terms rat and mouse are not taxonomically specific. Rats are known to grind their teeth so as to sharpen their incisors against one another. All rodents need to gnaw and chew frequently to keep their incisors from overgrowing.

Rats are the most beloved animal of most toxicologists, you see. More compounds have gone through rat tox than any other species, so there's a large body of experience out there.



What is hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a rare but serious, and often deadly, lung infection.

What is the infectious agent that causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is caused by the Sin Nombre virus. This virus is a type of hantavirus. Most hantaviruses attack the kidneys, but the Sin Nombre virus attacks the lungs. It infects the walls of the capillaries (tiny blood vessels in the lungs), making them leak and flooding the lungs with fluid.

Where is hantavirus pulmonary syndrome found?

Hantaviruses are found in rodents in different parts of the world. Each hantavirus has a preferred rodent host. The Sin Nombre virus is carried by the deer mouse, the cotton rat, and perhaps other rodents common throughout North America. These rodents live in semi-rural and rural areas and infest camps, old buildings, barns, and homes.

How do people get hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?

Wild rodents spread HPS to people. The Sin Nombre virus is passed in the saliva, urine, and droppings of infected rodents. The virus can live for a few days in contaminated dirt and dust. People are infected when they breathe in tiny particles of these materials in dust from places where rodents are living and active. People can also be infected by handling contaminated materials and then touching the mouth or nose.

HPS is not spread from person to person. Cats and dogs do not spread the illness either, although they can bring infected rodents into contact with humans.

What are the signs and symptoms of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?

The first symptoms are general and flu-like: fever (101oF-104oF), headache, stomach pain, pain in the joints and lower back, coughing, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. The main symptom is difficulty breathing as the lungs fill with fluid. This can quickly lead to an inability to breathe and, in severe cases, death from suffocation.

How soon after exposure do symptoms appear?

Symptoms can appear from 3 days to 6 weeks after infection, but usually within 2 weeks.

How is hantavirus pulmonary syndrome diagnosed?

Because the early symptoms are not specific and vary from person to person, HPS is hard to identify in its early stages. It is usually detected only when it affects the lungs and causes breathing problems.

Who is at risk for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?

Unlike many illnesses that mainly strike people with weakened immune systems, HPS has hit mostly strong, healthy persons. Those who work, play, or live in closed spaces with active rodent infestation are at risk, although the chances of infection are low. The risk to campers, hikers, and tourists is very small.

People who should take special precautions against HPS are: 1) people who often handle or are exposed to rodents, such as wildlife biologists and exterminators, 2) people who clean or work in attics or crawl spaces where rodents might be living and active, and 3) people who clean or renovate buildings that might be actively infested with rodents.

What complications can result from hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?

Infected persons can develop untreatable respiratory failure. HPS is fatal to more than half of those who become infected.

What is the treatment for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?

No virus-killing drug is effective against HPS. Although there has been some experimental use of the anti-virus drug, ribavirin, mechanical ventilation (use of a respirator) is the main treatment. Most patients need to be hospitalized in intensive care. The sooner an infected person gets medical treatment, the better the chance of recovery.

How common is hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?

HPS is a rare disease. It was first recognized in 1993 after the investigation of an outbreak of sudden fatal respiratory illness in the southwestern United States. Since then, no more than 100 cases of HPS have been identified in 20 states, mostly in the western part of the country.

Is hantavirus pulmonary syndrome a new or emerging infectious disease?

Yes. The Sin Nombre virus is a newly recognized virus, and HPS is a newly recognized disease. Scientists are working to learn more about it and to develop diagnostic tests and treatments.

How can hantavirus pulmonary syndrome be prevented?

Where can I find more information about hantavirus pulmonary syndrome?